Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lady Ella and Pasta Salad Caprese

Monday night we dined al-fresco. One of my best friends from high school, Cristina, was in town and came to see our house for the first time; so I wanted to entertain out on the patio. I love our backyard and enjoy sitting out there every chance I get. Recently, it hasn’t been that often because of all the rain. But the stars aligned in my favor on Monday. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. The temperature was just right; no humidity. Dining outside is such an enjoyable experience. That was one of my favorite things about living in Chicago during the summer months. Practically every restaurant, coffee shop or pub had outdoor seating. As a self-admitted people watcher, I could sit at my table for hours, chat with friends, breathe the city air and watch pedestrians stroll by with their shopping bags. And then I would proceed to comment on their outfits and accessory choices. But I digress…as it relates back to Monday night’s dinner, I think we would have sat outside all evening if it weren’t for the mosquitoes feasting on us. I’m beginning to believe certain citronella candles are falsely advertised.

For dinner I made a light pasta salad with cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. I also bought a bottle of Estimulo’s Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany the meal. Cristina brought over a bottle of wine called Layer Cake which makes me want to eat the wine instead of drink it. I love that name. I usually buy my wine at Wine Market in east Memphis. The staff there is extremely helpful and never shy of an opinion which I truly appreciate. Plus it’s next to Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn outlets so why not kill two birds with one stone and throw in a little home and kitchen shopping while I’m at it? When I asked the sales associate at Wine Market whether or not he’s tried Estimulo’s Cabernet Sauvignon, he said this Cabernet Sauvignon was the only one out of Estimulo’s entire collection that he liked. He said, “The rest are not even drinkable”. Now that’s the kind of candor I’m all about!

There are no cold or calculated moves to the way I chose a wine. I basically look at three things: red or white wine, the label, and the country of origin. According to this web site I should have served Zinfandel with my tomato pasta dish instead of the Sauvignon Blanc that I bought. But you want to know a secret? The wine and the pasta both tasted molto buoni! In all honesty, I would like to learn more about being a decent wine connoisseur so I don’t order wine off of a restaurant menu based on the price per glass, or whether it’s red or white wine. Oh, and on a side note, I dislike Chardonnay. So that’s out of the running.

This pasta is great. With just a few ingredients, it allows the tomato and mozzarella to work their magic together in a caprese salad kind of way. Boil the pasta in water, omitting the salt. Drain, rinse with cool water and set aside to chill. Chop the cherry tomatoes and mozzarella, and mix them together in a bowl. Drizzle the mixture with olive oil; season with kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and garlic powder. Stir and add the mixture to the pasta in a serving bowl. Add more olive oil and seasonings to your liking before you serve. You may also chose to add a little fresh basil. I had the basil chopped and ready but forgot to add it at the last minute.

The First Lady of Song (Ella Fitzgerald) can sing the soundtrack to My Eats and Beats any day. Her voice has such a beautiful tone and purity to it. I’ve always loved her duets with Louis Armstrong in particular, and their rendition of “Summertime” is perfect to pair with dining outdoors on a summer night, a glass of wine in hand, good company to laugh with, and an appetizing meal on your plate.

Here's to the eats and beats of summer time!

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